22 Jul Comparing MS Dynamics ERP Hosting Prices and Services
Comparing Dynamics ERP hosting prices and services is the first critical step in a cloud upgrade or new hosted ERP implementation.
True Cost of Subscription
When a hosting provider claims to offer the lowest pricing on subscription they might not be giving the full picture. It is a very important step to look into each line item of an ERP hosting offer to be sure that you won’t be facing unexpected charges for every single component. Keep an eye out for added costs for storage, Excel Reporting, SSRS, Email, Microsoft Office connection or for creating PDFs.
Beyond hidden costs, it is extremely important to understand the value of services and infrastructure included in your monthly subscription price and setup fees. Ask your potential providers what the total setup fees will be and whether or not your charges include the latest service packs, upgrades, ISV installs and a test company. It is common to leave these items out of a quote and upgrades and service packs are often not included in monthly fees. The cost of these services and products can add up quickly and turn to large unexpected costs in the future.
Next you want to know what you are getting in terms of infrastructure. Whether the provider uses a web client, Terminal Services, Citrix or VPN to provide remote access, you need to know that you and your people will have anywhere, anytime access to the system without worrying about reliability or performance. If you have trouble accessing or using the system remotely than it’s not really mobile. And at this point if it doesn’t give you mobility it isn’t really the cloud and you lose a competitive advantage when your system is locked in to your office’s IP address.
Web services and a server for a custom development environment may also be a hidden cost and it is an important variable when you compare the cost between different ERP hosters. Be sure to ask about this. It is also a good idea to ask about the cost and level of difficulty to migrate the system on premises if necessary.
These are important parts of hosting services cost structure that are commonly left out of the sticker price of the system. So be sure you protect your investment by asking about them.
Publicly traded companies and other enterprises with strict regulatory compliance and confidentiality requirements should avoid launching their mission critical financial systems in a public cloud. And be very cautious about the hosting provider they choose.
Assessing your businesses compliance needs should be one of your first steps when choosing an ERP solution and hosting provider. Once you understand your needs you can begin to search for hosting organization that is best able to fulfill those needs, or even better… exceed them. Ask the hosting providers you are considering if they make regulatory compliance part of their core competency. Do they offer compliance validated hosting environments in SSAE 16 Type II data centers? Ask about their audit documentation processes and internal SOX policy libraries. Are they able to support your auditors with a team of professionals with SOX, HIPAA and FDA certifications and other regulatory policies and laws? You want a clear understanding of all the vendor’s policies, procedures and infrastructure that are geared toward compliance.
Support and Service
When launching an ERP system in the cloud or in a hosting environment businesses to feel confident that their business will see a minimal amount of disruption. A hosted or cloud solution generally can be up and running much more quickly than an on-premises one, but hosted ERP deployments are not exactly simple either. These implementations require a lot of experience and knowledge to meet the complicated hardware, software, integration and configuration requirements of your company. It is also critical that your system will be maintained and managed and you will receive after sale support for audit documentation, security and hosting systems support.
Be sure you check references. Hosting organizations with a reputation for high quality service will have a proven track record of success delivering the specific solution you want to launch in the cloud. Be sure to choose a provider that not only has experience in the cloud but has experience and knowledge with the software you use, or want to use, including ERP and ISV products. This may seem like an obvious requirement but many hosters will provide cloud services for software they have never implemented on premises or in the cloud.
When a hoster is known in the industry for having the knowledge and experience in accounting and cloud and on-premise Dynamics ERP implementations, they know firsthand what how tricky a successful ERP deployment or upgrade can be. Make it a priority to find a hosting providers with experience in third party ISV applications that may need to be integrated with the ERP solution. This will ensure smoother integration, configuration and overall success of the project.
Lastly, ask if your ERP hosting partner will also be available directly 24/7/365 for hosting support.
Service Level Agreements
A comprehensive service level agreement (SLA) does more than just stipulate system availability, or uptime. It is your guard against any confusion or misunderstandings around responsibility, security, compliance, confidentiality and uptime. When a hosting provider is able get together with you and your company to draw up an SLA that meets the needs of everybody involved, it indicates their commitment to accommodate your requirements and deliver the highest levels of uptime and performance.
We recently covered the nine essential pieces to a comprehensive service level agreement in an SLA blog post. Here are the main points from that post.
- Data Confidentiality Policies and Processes
- Disaster Recovery and Responsibility
- Scheduled Downtime and Notification Requirements
- Uptime guarantees and Reimbursement for SLA Non-Compliance
- Support Severity Levels and Response Time Guarantees
- Back-up & Restore Routines (Recovery Point Objective and Recovery Time Objective)
- Data Ownership Policies
- Data Encryption and How it is Monitored
- Annual Price Increases, Notifications and Increase Limitations
Choosing a Microsoft Dynamics Hosting Partner is a critical step in your move to the cloud, but comparing Dynamics ERP hosting prices and services can be confusing. Keep these comparison points in mind to protect your business against hidden costs and to gain highest possible return on investment.
While there are some skeptics who continue to push back against the cloud there is no question that cloud computing is here to stay and it is replacing on-premises deployments for business all over the world. With improved agility, mobility and security over the typical in-house server, it’s obvious why adoption has been so rapid, but not all clouds are the same. Private clouds, public clouds and hosting solutions each have benefits depending on the type of software and data you want to house in them. You can read more about software specifics for cloud and hosting here».
For large-scale operations and public companies that require robust security and face strict regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), a private hosting companies are better equipped to deliver services, security and documentation than public cloud providers. But selecting a hosting partner to support an ERP system and critical financial data is not always straight forward and requires a fairly high degree of due diligence. To help in this process we have put together a few comparison points to keep in mind when comparing Microsoft Dynamics ERP hosting prices and services.